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Mom: Hopeful signs seen in Jahi McMath, teen deemed brain dead

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The mother of a 13-year-old California girl who was declared brain dead after suffering complications from sleep apnea surgery said she has seen changes in her daughter's condition that give her hope.

Doctors have declared Jahi McMath brain dead, and medical experts say she cannot be revived.

However, the girl's mother, Nailah Winkfield, said in a letter posted Wednesday on Facebook and Twitter that she believes her daughter is doing better since she was removed from Children's Hospital Oakland last month and taken to an undisclosed facility.

"Despite what people say about my daughter being dead and how I must be ignorant not to get that, I can tell you that she is much better physically since she has left Children's Hospital and I see changes that give me hope," Winkfield said in the letter.

She didn't give details of Jahi's condition or disclose her location. Jahi's family has said the girl has been fitted with feeding and breathing tubes while remaining on a ventilator.

Jahi underwent tonsil surgery on Dec. 9 and began bleeding heavily before going into cardiac arrest. Doctors declared her brain dead on Dec. 12 based on exams and tests showing no blood flow or electrical activity in her cerebrum or the brain stem that controls breathing.

Winkfield has refused to believe Jahi is dead and went to court to prevent the hospital from taking her daughter off a ventilator.

Medical experts have said a ventilator won't work indefinitely for Jahi and caring for a patient whom three doctors have said is legally dead is likely to be challenging.

The bodies of brain-dead patients kept on ventilators gradually deteriorate, eventually causing blood pressure to plummet and the heart to stop, said Dr. Paul Vespa, director of neurocritical care at the University of California, Los Angeles, who has no role in Jahi's care. The process usually takes only days but can sometimes continue for months, medical experts say.

In her letter, Winkfield also expressed gratitude for the emotional and financial support she has received from people around the world.

"If I had it my way, I would say thank you to each and every person in their native language so they could understand how much I appreciate them for all their support and, most importantly, prayers," Winkfield wrote.

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fwlrcj February 21 2014 at 8:16 PM

Just because the physical body is looking better doesn't change the face she is brain dead.

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jchuka February 21 2014 at 6:37 PM

Let the daughter go. She's gone.

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deebeck7765 February 21 2014 at 3:59 PM

I feel so incredibly sorry for this Mother and still don't know how a child dies from a tonsillectomy or what went so horrendously wrong surgically but I hope she can come to peace with letting go.

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thefotoguy2009 February 21 2014 at 3:01 PM

it is unfortunate that the family will have to learn the hard way that there daughter is legally dead. Noone likes to see this happen but prolonging it will make it harder for them in the end and it is putting the young girl in a position where she will just deteriorate until her heart stops. Such a sad sad situation. My prayers go out to the young girl and her family.

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pat22444 February 21 2014 at 2:38 PM

Sad to say but this is about money at this stage, some attorney has gotton to the mother and father and told them that the lawsuit is going to be a lot more money if they can bring into court a little girl in a vegatative state ,then to say a little girl died.

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wlparadise February 21 2014 at 2:04 PM

The mother probably doesn't trust their diagnosis and is hoping she will come out of what she perceives to be a coma and NOT brain dead. She will hang on til the girl gets severely ill and then the child will be allowed to die....so sad that the hospital allowed such a simple surgery I had 54 years ago become a death sentence. I thought we had made ADVANCES in medicine and not the butchering that in the mid ages that was allowed by barbers. Obamacare wants her $$cost OFF their books which was likely another reason to pull the plug. Elderly people are somehow magically allowed a HIGH blood pressure reading as "normal" now-- yet another way to hasten the end of life for those on Senior Care plans. Interesting fact about 85% of all the INSURANCE $money spent on someone during their LIFETIME is spent in the LAST TWO years of life........ yet another reason to skew the new "normal" for older Americans....I digress. My heart goes out to the family......No parent should have to bury their child.

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disc0pat February 22 2014 at 9:43 AM

Ignorant comment, even though you showed some compassion at the end.

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kathiehubbard February 24 2014 at 2:53 PM

Yes, you did digress -- into politics -- which has NO place here. Find an article about politics or the ACA to comment on those issues if you must!

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Tammy February 21 2014 at 12:55 PM

Sadly the mom is still in a state of denial. If there were real improvements she would not hesitate to say what they are since she is so determined to prove to the world that she was right. No one comes back from brain death and it is obvious from many of the comments that people just dont understand the vast difference between being declared brain dead and comatose, persistent vegatative state, or being unable to walk again. When the brain dies it dies for good.

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tricia1912 February 21 2014 at 12:15 PM

The mother of this girl is holding on to her faith in God,I have gone through this with two son's,one had a sudden cardiac arrest and It took six minutes to get him breathing again,he was in a coma on life support and the Dr.told me He will NOT survive,and if he should he would be in a nursing facility for the rest of his life,that was less than a year ago and today the only problem he has is with his short term memory which is mimmamal,my other son had a severs brain aneurysm and was on life support,I was told he would never be self reliant IF he survived,that was about a month ago,today he is doing very well in acute rehab and the DR. says he has every chance of a full recovery,I realize not all people recover from a trauma,but I fully believe my refusal to accet what the DR.'s told me and my faith in God is why they are doing so well today,God is the ultimate "Dr"

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fwlrcj February 21 2014 at 8:17 PM

Yes but the dr didn't say your son was brain dead, just had a damaged brain. there is a difference

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no1gum February 21 2014 at 11:13 AM

I feel so sorry for the mother. I don't know how I would feel if I was in her position. She is clinging to the hope of a miracle. Was it ever explained to her in terms she could understand that the machines are keeping her daughter alive, not her body? That is why everyone should think about getting a living will. I don't know if the mother has one for herself, I doubt it, but if she had gone through the questions she might have a better understanding of what life support actually is and what their effects are on the body.

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no1gum February 21 2014 at 11:15 AM

What's going on with AOL. I got a notice that my comment couldn't be entered because of technical difficulties try again later and now it's on here 5 times. Annoying.

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cuseme3095 February 21 2014 at 11:06 AM

It is difficult to be objective about this mother and her situation. I lost a son and I know the pain related to that. In time, the mother will accept a broken heart and hopefully live a good life. I do find it difficult to read the cold analytical response to what happened and is happening. Take away the emotion and it is easy to babble on.

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